Town Hall, Grad Celebration, FLC, Kutsche Director, Faculty Transitions
Town Hall, Grad Celebration, FLC, Kutsche Director, Faculty Transitions
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Newsletter April 2021
Headshot of Mark Schaub, Dean of Brooks College
Dean Schaub

Dean's Message

During the rainstorms of April
the oyster rises from the sea
and opens its shell —
rain enters it —
when it sinks the raindrops
become the pearl.
So take a picnic,
open your body,
and give birth to pearls.
― Anne Sexton, from “The Sermon of the 12 Acknowledgements”
We should be used to this, these separations, each April. But this year it may be even more difficult than usual, and more difficult than last year, with the terror of the COVID pandemic still “new.”
The separations, of course, are largely our farewells to students who are completing their degrees. We will be congratulating graduates from all of our Brooks College programs at the undergraduate level, and—for the very first time—at least one student on the graduate level, as the M.A. degree in Social Innovation finally reaches its maturity. It is fitting that the director of the program, Dr. Wendy Burns-Ardolino, will be here for that moment, as she is the colleague most responsible for the program’s successes to date.
Just weeks after commencement, Wendy is among several colleagues to whom we’ll also be saying farewell. She will be starting a new chapter in her professional life this summer. Other key faculty colleagues, including Dr. Sarah King (Director of the ENS program) and Dr. Craig Benjamin (retiring from the Frederick Meijer Honors College), will likewise be leaving our midst. They, and others, will be missed greatly.
As we navigate this transition month, let’s continue to cherish what is important. All the best on your own picnic!
Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Brooks College Town Hall on April 9

All Brooks College faculty and staff are invited to an informal Town Hall this Friday, April 9, from 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. Dean Schaub will share opening comments, there will be time for Q&A, and we will discuss plans for the fall semester. RSVP for the Zoom link.

Brooks College Graduation Celebration on May 1

Brooks College will host an outdoor gathering for graduating students and their guests on May 1.
The event will be held in a tent near the Kirkhof Center from 10:45 – 11:30 a.m., following the Laker Graduation Celebration in the Fieldhouse Arena.
The dean's office will provide gifts for students and cornhole boards for play. Dean Schaub will be present to congratulate students and their families. All Brooks College faculty and staff are invited to join the event. The dean's office will email invitations to all graduating students soon.

Teaching Excellence Cohorts

During the Spring/Summer term, all Brooks faculty are invited to join one of two Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) on how faculty can create and sustain inclusive, student-centered learning environments.
This FLC will use a five-module, self-paced edX course that offers an inclusive teaching framework with multiple entry points for reflection and exploration of the research on learning and diversity. Faculty should come with a course in mind to design or revise for inclusion. Dr. Dana Munk, Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow and professor of movement science, will facilitate the sessions.
The cohorts are scheduled for May 10 – June 22 and June 28 – August 9. Space is limited to 12 participants per cohort. Learn more and sign-up.

Nora Salas Named Next Kutsche Director

Nora Salas, associate professor of history, has been named the next director of the Kutsche Office of Local History.
Salas will assume leadership of the office in August, when current director Kim McKee, associate professor of integrative, religious and intercultural studies, leaves for sabbatical. Salas' appointment runs through August 2024.
Salas joined Grand Valley's faculty in 2014. She said the Kutsche Office of Local History has been an interest of hers for many years.
Salas said, "I am very excited about beginning this position as Director of the Kutsche Office and working more closely with Brooks College faculty, staff and students. Through its focus on underrepresented groups and a collaborative process, the Kutsche Office has helped diverse communities to claim history as their own. Helping those who haven't traditionally seen themselves reflected in history to do so is at the core of my activities as a historian. Past directors from the Brooks College, Melanie Shell-Weiss and Kim McKee, have shown what great work the Kutsche Office can do and I hope to build upon that."
Dean Schaub said, "Dr. Salas brings her own history of researching and sharing local history, and has been involved in Kutsche Office projects for several years. I’m excited to start working to support her and her vision in August."

Faculty and Staff Transitions

Craig Benjamin, professor of history in the Meijer Honors College, will retire in May, after 18 years at GVSU.
Craig joined the History Department in 2003 and moved to the Honors College in 2012. In Honors, he has taught regularly in the Big History and East Asia first-year interdisciplinary sequences as well as the "Live Learn Lead" course. Craig has authored or co-authored three books, edited or co-edited six books, and published dozens of articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries.
Roger Gilles, director of the Honors College, said, "Craig is one of the most accomplished and beloved professors I’ve had the pleasure to know in nearly 30 years at Grand Valley. Through his publications and service to professional organizations, he’s made significant contributions not only to the fields of Big History and East Asian studies, but also to the discipline of History in general. Through four Great Courses series for The Teaching Company and multiple popular lecture tours on cruise lines around the world, he’s brought history and culture alive for thousands of nonacademics. And as a generous, charming, caring, and engaging teacher in the Honors College, he’s transformed hundreds of student lives. In course evals and in senior exit surveys, students consistently cite him as their favorite professor ever. Before I joined the Honors College, I knew Craig as an upbeat colleague and popular teacher, but working closely with him these past four years has shown me that he’s actually much more than that. He’s simply one of a kind, and we will miss him dearly."
Dean Schaub said, "Craig has been beloved by both students and colleagues since his arrival on campus. His time with us has gone quickly and his impact has been tremendous—and that impact will no doubt last the rest of our lives, and his scholarship well beyond that."
Craig shared, "My decision to retire from GVSU is definitely bittersweet. On the one hand, it is time for Pamela and me to return to Australia to be closer to our family, including my 89 years-old mother, and our 20 month-old grandson, Oliver. But on the other, the thought that I will not be walking back into the Honors College this coming fall to spend another wonderful year interacting with students and colleagues is very sad. The 18 years I have spent at GVSU, mostly in Brooks College, have been the happiest and most rewarding of my life. I have loved every minute I have spent inside and outside the classroom with my students, who I genuinely believe to be amongst the finest young adults on the planet. And Grand Valley has also been incredibly supportive professionally, allowing me to pursue my career and realize my potential as a historian. I shall miss my students and colleagues very much, but I know that the connections and friendships I have made at Grand Valley State University will survive any geographical separation and that I will always feel connected to this special place."
The Honors College is hosting a virtual retirement celebration for Craig on Thursday, April 15 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. All faculty, staff, students, and alumni are welcome to join.
Wendy Burns-Ardolino headshot
Wendy Burns-Ardolino, director of the Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation (PMASI) program and professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies (IRIS), has accepted a position as the Dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Houston Downtown (UHD). Wendy begins her new role on July 1.
Wendy joined GVSU in 2011 as the chair of Liberal Studies (now IRIS) and served in that role through 2016. Her leadership and vision shaped the social innovation graduate program.
Dean Schaub said, "Dr. Burns-Ardolino has been a force for positive impact her entire time. She was a committed and results-oriented leader for Liberal Studies, as a faculty governance campus leader, and in founding the college’s first and only graduate degree program. Her expertise, her contributions, and her energy will be missed!"
Melanie Shell-Weiss, chair of IRIS said, "Wendy’s support for women in higher educational leadership is especially noteworthy. A graduate of the HERS Institute Class of 2017, Wendy served as Associate Director-in-Residence of the Institute in 2018. In 2017 she also received the Glenn A. Niemeyer Award, the highest award given by GVSU in recognition of outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service. It is difficult for me to imagine our department without Wendy. But I know she will make tremendous contributions at the UHD."
Wendy shared, "I am humbled to be joining the dynamic faculty, staff, students, and leadership team at UHD as the next Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. UHD is nationally recognized as a community-engaged, Hispanic and Minority Serving Institution, and offers me a chance to integrate my interdisciplinary cultural studies expertise and social innovation leadership experience to serve diverse learners and their communities through the cultivation of community partnerships and regional development of talent pipeline programs. I will truly miss colleagues and students at GVSU, and I am so grateful for the past ten years and the opportunity to work collaboratively with so many people across the university to build and grow new programs and initiatives - I will carry this experience with me to UHD!"
Sarah King headshot
Sarah King, associate professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies (IRIS) and director of environmental and sustainability studies (ENS), is leaving to pursue a professional opportunity in Canada.
Sarah has been at GVSU since 2012. She has served as the Farm Club Advisor at the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) and a member of the SAP Advisory Board, and as Religious Studies Coordinator. She is the chair of the University Research & Development Committee and a Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center Faculty Associate.
Dean Schaub said, "Dr. King and her many contributions to students in our programs will be greatly missed. As the director of the fastest-growing major at GVSU (ENS), Dr. King’s vision for the future growth of this program will be missed, as will her passion for building a quality program to help students launch their careers in this exciting area. Her successful leadership roles, in faculty committees and in helping develop the Master’s degree program in Social Innovation will also be missed immediately and in the longer term."
Jae Basilière headshot
Jae Basilière, assistant professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies (WGSS), has accepted a position as a faculty developer at Northern Vermont University. Jae has been at GVSU since 2016.
Jae will be co-leading a teaching center, building institutional diversity initiatives, and teaching WGSS classes.
Dean Schaub said, "Jae’s innovative approach in their teaching has resonated well with students, and they have been supportive of student learning outside of the classroom, too. We wish them well in their career in higher education."

Making Waves Moving to Honors

Making Waves, GVSU's initiative to explore and investigate the many ways that water touches our lives, will move to a new home in the Meijer Honors College in July.
The Provost's Office launched the initiative in 2019 to create collaboration across campus among students, faculty, staff, as well as with the community around the topic of water.
Roger Gilles, director of the Honors College said, "When COVID hit, the campus community never really got to experience everything Making Waves promised to be. We feel it deserves another chance, and as a campus-wide interdisciplinary effort, we think Brooks College and the Honors College are the right place for it, long term."
Peter Wampler, professor of geology in honors and co-leader of Making Waves said, "I am excited about the experiential learning and advocacy opportunities that the Making Waves Initiative can provide to honors students.  We hope to harness their passion, energy, and ideas to Make Waves throughout western Michigan and beyond.”

Lake Michigan Writing Project Moving to English

In August, the Lake Michigan Writing Project (LMWP) will be moving from Brooks College to the English Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The LMWP is the local site of the National Writing Project that seeks to improve the teaching of writing in America’s schools. Each summer the LMWP hosts programs for teachers of all disciplines who want to learn best writing practices and summer writing camps for local students in grades 3-12.
Dean Schaub said, "The Lake Michigan Writing Project has served as one of the key elements of community engagement for Brooks College, and thus a key area in which Brooks has had an impact. We are happy that the programs will continue in its new home, and we in Brooks look forward to supporting their success in coming years."


Jeremiah Cataldo, associate professor of history in honors, was a panelist for a virtual conference, Padnos Public Engagement on Jewish Learning Event: "The Historical Jesus in His Jewish Context," hosted by the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan on March 10.
David Coffey, director of the Design Thinking Academy and professor of mathematics, was a panelist on a webinar, "Learning Approaches to Science-based Education," hosted by the U.S. Department of Education's You for Youth.
Denise Goerisch, assistant professor and assistant chair of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, wrote a chapter, "Live Like a College Student: Student Loan Debt and the College Experience," in a book, Growing Up and Getting By: International Perspectives on Childhood and Youth in Hard Times, published by Policy Press and Bristol University Press.
Kim McKee, associate professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies and director of the Kutsche Office of Local History, was interviewed by NPR for the story, "'Am I Asian Enough?' Adoptees Struggle To Make Sense Of Spike In Anti-Asian Violence."
Andrea Riley-Mukavetz, assistant professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, presented at a virtual event, "An Indigenous Way of Being," hosted by Groundswell.
Darrien Ripple, assistant professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, spoke to Shelley Irwin on the WGVU Morning Show about a design thinking beer collaboration with Founders Brewing.
Crystal Scott-Tunstall, affiliate professor of environmental and sustainability studies, was a panelist on a food justice webinar hosted by the NAACP Grand Rapids Environmental Justice Committee.
Ayana Weekley, associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, was accepted into a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, Hurston on the Horizon: Past, Present, and Future, to be held virtually July 11-30, 2021.
Christine Yard, adjunct faculty member for integrative, religious, and intercultural studies and women, gender, and sexuality studies, wrote a book, Private Love, Public School: Gay Teacher Under Fire, published by Penning History Press, LLC. Christine spoke about her book at an event hosted by the Meijer Honors College on March 11.


Faculty Calendar

April 24: Classes end
April 26 – May 1: Final exams
May 4: Grades due by 12:00 p.m.
May 6 – 7: Write Winning Grant Proposals: Virtual CSCE Seminar (RSVP by April 16)
May 10: Classes Begin - 1st 6 and 12 weeks
May 10 – June 22: Teaching Excellence FLC (Spring cohort)
May 31: Memorial Day recess
June 28 – August 9: Teaching Excellence FLC (Summer cohort)
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